Brexit: 10 things you need to know about Article 50

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1. Article 50 has now been triggered

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This starts a two-year period during which the UK's exit from the EU will be negotiated. Read our analysis of the Brexit process during and beyond the next two years for more information.

2. Forget about the "two-year" negotiation period
In practice, the negotiation period is likely to be shorter than two years. This is because the first stage is for the EU to formulate and agree its own negotiating position and this is likely to take several months. 

3. All Members must agree an extension
Extending the negotiation period needs the agreement of all EU Member States.

4. Any deal needs approval
The UK Government has agreed to put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament. Approval of the withdrawal agreement is also needed on the EU side.

5. No deal means EU Treaties cease to apply to the UK
If no deal is reached within two years, and no extension of the negotiating period is agreed, the EU Treaties simply cease to apply to the UK.

6. Leaving the EU could cost the UK up to €60 billion
Recent reports suggest that the cost to the UK of exiting the EU could be anything up to €60 billion. This figure reflects outstanding spending commitments and liabilities. The exact numbers and the legal basis for any exit payment remain far from clear, but this issue is going to be high on the negotiating agenda.

7. The future EU/UK relationship may not be on the table
The UK Government wants to set the terms of the UK's future relationship with the EU during this negotiation period. Many EU Member States oppose this. The extent to which the negotiation period will be used to consider the UK's future relationship with the EU, as well as the exit arrangements, is therefore unclear at present. Timing constraints might make it unrealistic to focus on both elements at the same time.

8. Can Article 50 be revoked? It's an open question
The question of whether an Article 50 notice, once given, can be revoked is a legal unknown at present. Legal proceedings are underway in Ireland to consider this point, but are still at an early stage.

9. Another Scottish Independence Referendum?
The latest call by the Scottish Government to hold a second independence referendum at some point before the end of the two year process is a further potential complexity.

10. The UK hopes its Great Repeal Bill will ease the process
To ensure legal certainty post-Brexit, the UK Government plans to introduce a Great Repeal Bill, to come into effect on the day on which the UK actually leaves the EU. This will remove the European Communities Act 1972, the Act which currently gives effect to all EU law in the UK, and convert the body of existing EU law into UK law. The drafting of the act is likely to be complex. Our analysis of the Great Repeal Bill goes into this issue in more depth. A white paper with more detail is expected later this week.